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Country lanes

Country lanes or tracks [chemins ruraux] are minor roads or tracks that belong to municipalities which are used by the public but not classified as local roads [voies communales]. These three criteria are cumulative.

They are part of a municipality's private domain and are subject to special legal rules.

  • What is the difference between a country lane (or track) and a farm road [chemin d'exploitation]?

    • Country lanes or tracks are used mainly by farmers. They enable farmers to access the various parts of their farms. They are presumed to belong to the municipality until the opposite is proven. They must not be confused with farm roads and farm tracks [sentiers d'exploitation] which are presumed to belong to the local property owners who use them.

  • What is the difference between a country lane and a local road?

    • Local roads are part of the public domain held by public corporations and may not be disposed of. If they are to be disposed of, they must first be declassified (a strict procedure which removes a road's status as a public highway). As a preliminary step, an official record must be made of the fact that the road in question is no longer used by the public.

  • Can a country lane or track be sold?

    • Because country lanes or tracks are part of the private domain of the municipality they may not be disposed of. If they are to be sold, a special procedure must be followed which is dependent upon their no longer being used by the public.

    • However, country lanes or tracks may not be exchanged, although they may be swapped [in a double vente].

  • What obligations does the municipality have?

    • The municipality has no obligation to maintain these lanes and tracks even if, in principle, it is responsible for their financing and maintenance.

  • What is the advantage of consulting a notaire?

    • The notaire will check the classification of the road, lane or way: is it a local road, a municipal lane or track [chemin communal] or a farm road? The procedures to be followed in the event of a sale or exchange will depend upon the classification.

    • The notaire will be able to simplify matters and ensure that the regulations are complied with, in order to ensure that the deed of sale or exchange is fully effective. Often, it will be necessary to consult the deliberations of the municipal council.